Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital
My MOVE! Journey
15 years ago, Dennis Hodo decided to quit smoking. As an unwanted side effect, his weight skyrocketed and he found himself 100 pounds heavier than what he weighed in the Army. He was on medication for high blood pressure and high cholesterol. He knew he needed to get healthy and decided to talk with his dietitians at the Poplar Bluff VA Medical Center. They provided him handouts on suggested diets, like eating more vegetables and switching from beef to poultry. Within two years, Dennis lost 30 pounds and felt better. However, he plateaued and his weight stayed around 250 pounds.
Dennis moved to Missouri and still felt like he could lose more weight. So at an appointment with his Primary Care Provider, he asked if there was a pill that could take the weight off. The doctor jokingly said he would give him a pill to get the weight off and handed Dennis a brochure for the MOVE! Program. Having struggled with his weight for almost 25 years, Dennis knew that he needed to get motivated and get healthier, and he could do that with the MOVE! Program.
In April 2015, Dennis started MOVE! Classes and completed 12 sessions of the Telephone Lifestyle Coaching with the MOVE! Coordinator. He learned during the weekly coaching calls that he had to change his diet to lose weight. At first, he thought that he was going to have a very restrictive diet, but, after going through the class, he learned there were very few things that he could not eat.
He started using artificial sweeteners and choosing lower fat and salt free options when he went grocery shopping. The program taught him the importance of tracking his food each day. As he says, “If you just think in your head what you ate without writing it down, you don’t have any idea of where you are for the day. The MyFitnessPal app tells me how much salt I’m eating and provides the statistics on anything you can think of.” He learned how to have more control over what he was eating and drinking by using the MyFitnessPal app.
Dennis also decided to buy a food scale. Before the scale, he would put food in a bowl and think he knew how much he was eating. He later found out that he was eating many more servings than he thought. Having a food scale helped him control his portions and now he can look at his food and know how many ounces he is eating. “If you live by what the MOVE! Program teaches, you won’t starve to death and you will feel a lot better.”
At the same time Dennis was going through the MOVE! Program, he started treatment for his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He believed that going through the MOVE! Program and getting counseling from Behavioral Health went hand-in-hand. He realized that, by changing his thinking and attitude, he could finally “deserve” to lose the weight. “The treatment for PTSD was really hard, but by doing it, I realized that I’m not too old and that I can lose weight, feel better, and that I deserve to do it. I spent a lifetime taking care of everyone else and not taking care of me. I now see that life is too short to be walking around overweight and feeling depressed all the time.”
Dennis now reminisces on his weight loss journey. His weight was 250 pounds with a BMI of 39.24 when he started the program in April 2015. As of August 2016, he is down to 220 pounds with a BMI of 34.53! Even though he has lost a lot of weight, he has no plans of stopping his weight loss journey. He currently walks 30 minutes a day, rain or shine, on his treadmill. He is trying new foods that he had not experienced before, and makes sure to read the labels to keep track of what he is eating.
He feels like he now has more energy and is much happier about his outlook on life. He is now wearing clothes that have been sitting in his closet for the past 25 years. He plays more music and has the confidence to play in front of people because he is not so heavy. He no longer has to take blood pressure or cholesterol medications due to his weight loss. “Sometimes you don’t realize how heavy of a load you have until you lose it,” Dennis stated.
Dennis is now a guest speaker twice a month to the introductory MOVE! Class. He shares what works for him and answers any questions fellow Veterans might have about his weight loss journey. So many people have asked about his weight loss that he says “I tell them about MyFitnessPal and how you actually have to work the program. If you choose to start making changes, remember that there is no deadline. Even weeks when you gain a pound, just don’t quit. I went three months without losing weight, despite eating healthy and being physically active. Even though I got discouraged, I didn’t quit and finally lost the weight.”